Experts Media and governance from 15 Sub-Saharan African countries have agreed to establish a multi-stakeholder network comprising of non-state actors to work with governments, parliamentarians, and other stakeholders to support a conducive legal, regulatory, and economic environment for media and to defend independent voices, especially when they come under attack.
The experts met in Durban, South Africa on July 5 and 6, 2017 where they formed the network and agreed to communicate a clear set of African priorities in the media sector. And to use the agenda identified at the meeting to mobilize support from international donors and organizations, and may provide a basis to form new coalitions for action in the region.
The Concluding Statement which emanated from the meeting disclosed that the multi-stakeholder network would be an essential resource for confronting a complex combination of global and regional challenges to media systems that threaten to reverse the progress made on the continent in fostering pluralism, quality journalism, and freedom of expression.
Participants at the meeting express they conviction that: “Democracy and sustainable development in Africa will depend upon defending and deepening the role of media as a source of reliable information, a spotlight on abuse and injustice, a driver of growth, and a platform for citizen voices.”
The network therefore plans to focus on building broad coalitions, including media associations, human rights groups, media outlets, legal and judicial organizations, and trade unions to work on four objective areas namely solidarity among proponents of independent media; sustainability of media outlets and markets; an African voice in digital debates; and media literacy and professionalism.
The group further identified steps to be taken in the coming months to set the network in motion. These include mapping existing networks to identify the existing stakeholders and networks that could form the basis of this wider network; forming working groups aligned to the four objective areas to elaborate specific action plans and proposals and developing common policy positions for advocacy on media issues at the global level and at important upcoming events on the continent.
The two-day meeting was held with the support of the Centre for International Media Assistance, Deutsche Welle Akademie, and the Pan-African Lawyers Union.